Project Profile: Amato Architecture
Remodel of a Dixon Home in Oakland, California
Harkening “simpler times,” the swaybacked-roofs, sweeping arches and turrets define the Bay Area’s storybook “mansions.” Oakland architect W.W. Dixon built several communities of these fanci-ful homes including those along Ross Street in Rockridge.
The owners of one of these unique dwellings needed more functional living space and approached Amato Architecture to interpret their vision of optimizing their home’s living space without changing its character.
Cramped and inefficient, the origi-nal kitchen was set at the back of the house. The architects updated the space by removing some walls to include an existing breakfast nook; added French doors with a wedding cake stairway to the back yard; and opened an interior hallway. The use of arches is characteristic of Dixon’s work. The architects added a sweep-ing, asymmetrical arch to soften the kitchen’s angular space and unite the two halves of the home.
Above the new kitchen sink was an attic play space the couple’s boys had out grown. It was reconfigured into a functional upstairs cupboard. Reclaiming this attic area allowed the architects to vault the kitchen ceilings and add timbers, mimicking the home’s great room while preserving the visual and period architecture.
All Dixon’s Ross Street homes contain a distinctive theme. The architects preserved these hand-carved details of an American settler wagon train motif depicting the ‘49’er migration, and beautifully intact, leaded glass cabinet doors, re-purposed in cupboards above the computer workstation.
Adjacent to the stove, large, deep drawers disguised as cabinets, keep skillets and pans tidy and easily accessible. This is
a vast improvement to the dark, hard-to-reach, under-the-counter norm. The computer workstation’s top drawer
houses a pullout keyboard that also tucks away neatly when not in use.
The old laundry room was transformed into a multi-functional, multi-use space: part guest room, laundry room, game room and music studio. Appliances hidden behind cabinetry, disguise the room’s original purpose. New French doors open to a covered patio with comfortable seating, surrounded by a low-maintenance landscape to create a convivial extension to the home’s living space.